January 13, 2015

Article | Thoughts on the 2015 Canadian Screen Awards

The 2015 Canadian Screen Awards nominations can be found at academy.ca. As I mainly follow Canadian television, most of my comments are related to that medium. As long as I don’t type “chicken dinner” or “pathetic circle-jerk” in a petulant capacity, Gloryosky should be fine. Also, I’ve given up and accepted the term “Screenie” as Canadian Screen Award shorthand.

  • The Best Drama Series nominees are 19-2, Motive, Continuum, Orphan Black, and Remedy. Canadian television drama is in a high period right now, so this is the category I care about the most. I would short Orphan Black to win, yet it’s going up against 19-2. It’s hard to say who will win Best Drama Series this year; it’s a solid shortlist. This is the extent of Continuum’s involvement in the 2015 Screenies, unless Continuum fans keep calm and nominate Rachel Nichols for the Fan Choice Award.
  • I don’t have a problem with Best Comedy Series, though I should. The nominees this year are Spun Out (ecch), Tiny Plastic Men, Call Me Fitz, Mr. D, and Seed. It’s a relatively weak lineup, and I’m genuinely surprised to see Super Channel’s Tiny Plastic Men earn its second nomination in the category. Last year saw CBC’s Gavin Crawford’s Wild West busted pilot earn several nominations, so I’m glad no busted pilots appear this year.
  • I would complain about Blackstone not being nominated for a Screenie this year, except that it was nominated last year, despite the fact that Blackstone’s third season aired on APTN from September to October 2013. Blackstone should have been eligible for this year’s Screenies, not last year’s. I assume the nomination screeners for Blackstone’s third season were sent before APTN scheduled the season. In any case, Blackstone’s fourth season will likely be nominated in 2016, as it falls squarely in the September 1, 2014-August 31, 2015 eligibility period.
  • Republic of Doyle has no nominations this year. The Globe and Mail’s John Doyle will write a piece about how much this perceived snub sucks. There is no question about whether he’ll write the piece or not. He will – maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of his life.
  • I’m surprised Super Channel’s half-hour Catholic confessional drama Forgive Me has five nominations. Super Channel original programs are fairly obscure to begin with; said baggage comes with being a premium cable package that isn’t The Movie Network. 24 Hour Rental has a nomination in Best Original Music Score for a Series, while Tiny Plastic Men has three nominations in total. Super Channel does fairly well for itself this year, given its relatively recent forays into original programming.
  • On the whole, I can’t complain about the 2015 Canadian Screen Awards nominations. I wish the digital media side was beefed up. Digital media are going to be more important in the future. Darknet fans should know that its one Screenie nomination this year is in Best Cross-Platform Project – Fiction (i.e., the Darknet website). Luckily, Netflix carries Darknet, so the show isn’t as obscure as it could be. I bet you’re shocked Darknet is on Super Channel.
  • I should note that twenty-five years ago, Material World and Mosquito Lake duked it out for Gemini Awards comedy supremacy (such as it was), when the real fight was between Kids in the Hall and CODCO in the variety category. Why do I bring this up? The Canadian Screen Awards used to be far worse in its previous forms.
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November 11, 2014

TV News | CITF 2014 schedule at a glance

I’ve covered the Canadian International Television Festival on Gloryosky before, so I won’t repeat old news. The main additions since Friday, October 31, 2014 are binge screenings of Remedy and 30 Vies (30 Lives), a Republic of Doyle fan event, panels and screenings of 19-2 and The Knick, and a Camp X panel/preview.

Tickets to all events are free, and are available here. As of November 11, 2014, this is not a complete list; this article will be updated as more of the schedule is announced. The Book of Negroes red carpet and screening is mentioned here as “sold out” (inasmuch as a free festival can sell out), so keep that in mind.

Currently, every event takes place at TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto, Ontario.

November 14, 2014
TBD

November 15, 2014
Unité 9 (Radio-Canada): binge screening, 7:00-11:00 PM ET

November 16, 2014
Corner Gas (CTV): fan event, 7:00-8:30 PM ET
Remedy (Global): binge screening, 7:00-11:00 PM ET
Republic of Doyle (CBC): fan event, 5:00-6:30 PM ET

November 17, 2014
Blackstone (APTN): panel and episode screening, 8:00-10:30 PM ET
The Book of Negroes (CBC/BET): panel (no screening), 5:00-6:00 PM ET
19-2 (Bravo): panel and second-season premiere screening, 9:00-10:30 PM ET

November 18, 2014
The Book of Negroes (CBC/BET): red carpet and screening, 7:00-10:00 PM ET
CBC ComedyCoup (CBC): presentation, 5:00-6:30 PM ET

November 19, 2014
The Knick (Cinemax): panel and screening, 8:00-10:00 PM ET

November 20, 2014
Strange Empire (CBC): Writers Talking TV panel and screening, 6:30-9:30 PM ET

November 21, 2014
TBD

November 22, 2014
Camp X (CBC): panel and exclusive preview, 7:00-9:30 PM ET
Carmilla: fan event, 3:00-5:00 PM ET
Vikings (History): binge screening, 7:00-11:00 PM ET

November 23, 2014
30 Vies (30 Lives, Radio-Canada): binge screening, 7:00-11:00 PM ET
This Hour Has Seven Days (CBC)/Party Game (CHCH)/The Hart & Lorne Terrific Hour (CBC): heritage screening, 2:00-6:00 PM ET

Visit citf14.tv for more details.

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November 1, 2014

Social Media | Gloryosky at the 2013 CITF

Gloryosky attended the first Canadian International Television Festival on Saturday, November 16, 2013, at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto, Ontario. Below is Gloryosky’s curated Twitter summary of the day. In my opinion, the best Saturday panels were from the Made in Canada and Royal Canadian Air Farce casts attending the festival.

I was a fan of Royal Canadian Air Farce in the early 1990s, and attended an Air Farce taping around December 1995. Despite this, I had low hopes for Air Farce’s panel, given what I feel was a decline of the show’s quality after the late 1990s. It was a surprisingly candid and informative panel, punctuated by the idea of CBC cutting Air Farce’s already-low budget. Air Farce’s panel might have been better attended had it not occupied the 2:00 PM-3:00 PM ET timeslot.

Given how 19-2, The Amazing Race Canada and Masterchef Canada are all hits for Bell Media, and Degrassi has an agreeable home on MTV Canada, I question why the four shows were bundled into a three-hour morning format, which relatively few people attended. When I can type that about The Amazing Race Canada and Degrassi, that says something. Binge-viewing of Sherlock turned out to be the better draw.

The Sunday Murdoch Mysteries screening and panel, which I didn’t attend as I went to my sister’s twenty-fifth anniversary party, was the clear audience draw of CITF 2013. Murdoch Mysteries has a loyal fanbase.

I was unimpressed by CITF’s promotion for its first year. Although the Murdoch Mysteries and Spun Out events were well-attended, most of CITF’s events were decided in the last two weeks before the festival, resulting in relatively sparse attendance for a free festival in downtown Toronto. The events themselves ran smoothly.

While I still think CITF cuts it relatively close with its promotion, 2013 felt like it was booked on the fly, which it might have been. Corner Gas is a main attraction this year; CITF can no longer afford to be sloppy.


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October 31, 2014

TV News | CITF announces Corner Gas, Blackstone, Strange Empire, other events for 2014 festival

On Friday, October 31, 2014, the Canadian International Television Festival announced several new planned events. The second annual CITF runs from November 14 to 23, 2014; unless otherwise mentioned, events take place at TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto, Ontario.

No set schedule currently exists for these events, apart from The Book of Negroes’ screening and panel session on November 18, 2014. More information, as well as ticket availability, will emerge on November 4, 2014.

Binge-Watching
Unité 9 (Radio-Canada; French-language)
Vikings (History)

Heritage Screening and Panel
“Cameras on the Hill and in the Halls: Canada’s Governments on Television”: panelists TBA
The Hart and Lorne Terrific Hour (CBC, 1970-71): Hart Pomerantz; other panelists TBA

Preview and Panel
Corner Gas (CTV) tenth anniversary reunion and preview of Corner Gas: The Movie; panelists TBA

Screening and Panel
Blackstone (APTN): Ron E. Scott
The Book of Negroes (CBC): Cuba Gooding Jr., Aunjanue Ellis, Lyriq Bent, Allan Hawco, Louis Gossett Jr., Clement Virgo, Damon D’Oliveira, Lawrence Hill [previously announced]
Strange Empire (CBC): Laurie Finstad-Knizhnik [WGC Writers Talking Television event]

Script Read and Panel
Carmilla (online show produced by Smokebomb Entertainment/shift2/U By Kotex®)

Also announced is a CBC ComedyCoup spotlight, and a Bill Brioux screening of lost and historic TV programs.

Tickets to all events are free, and are available starting November 5, 2014, through eventbrite.ca. Visit citf14.tv for more details.

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October 23, 2014

TV News | CITF announces The Book of Negroes North American premiere for 2014 festival

The Canadian International Television Festival quietly announced (as in, first mentioned on Twitter) the North American premiere of CBC/BET event mini-series The Book of Negroes on Tuesday, November 18, 2014 in Toronto, Ontario, following TBoN’s world premiere at MIPCOM in Cannes, France. Announced attendees include actors Cuba Gooding Jr., Aunjanue Ellis, Lyriq Bent, Allan Hawco, and Louis Gossett Jr., director Clement Virgo, executive producer Damon D’Oliveira, and The Book of Negroes author Lawrence Hill. A panel discussion with aforementioned TBoN talents follows the screening.

The second Canadian International Television Festival runs from November 14 to 23, 2014, in a format change from the initial three-day festival. Although there is no mention of where The Book of Negroes screens, based on last year’s events and this press release, The Book of Negroes’ premiere likely screens at TIFF Bell Lightbox. Ticket information follows in the weeks leading up to CITF.

Shows previously screened at CITF before their Canadian television debuts include Bravo’s English adaptation of 19-2, and CTV sitcom Spun Out. This is the first CBC show to screen at the Canadian International Television Festival before its debut, although the 19-2 premiere was a reworked version of the original CBC pilot.


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October 15, 2014

Article | Why Strange Empire doesn’t need to “save the CBC”

With Strange Empire, Laurie Finstad-Knizhnik’s new CBC Television show, two narratives dominate the show’s current publicity – the woman-oriented western angle, and the drama that’s “more substantial” than CBC’s other homegrown dramatic fare. With this in mind, Strange Empire’s debut earned 319,000 viewers on October 6, 2014. Its second episode earned 312,000 viewers on October 13, 2014. That’s not a good start for the latest show that’s allegedly too “un-CBC” for CBC.

Even though I don’t pay attention to promotion as much as I used to, I do notice the lack of putting Finstad-Knizhnik’s name upfront in the promotion to Strange Empire, trailer-wise. CBC has other avenues in which to publicize Finstad-Knizhnik’s involvement with Strange Empire, but not in the commercials and trailers themselves. Durham County – which Finstad-Knizhnik co-created – is as much about suburban decay, and a character study about people trying to deal with their personal issues, as it is a crime drama. Similarly, Strange Empire is more complex than “women in a late-1860s Western Canada bordertown”, which at least this Dork Shelf piece understands. Perhaps CBC wants the television audience to focus on the show’s concept, and not the creator’s previous achievements. I don’t know.

If Durham County had a unique selling point in first run, it was Hugh Dillon’s role as homicide detective Mike Sweeney. Dillon is the lead singer for The Headstones, and a decent actor. He became a marketable name in Canadian television through Durham County and CTV’s Flashpoint. By comparison, CBC Revenue Group first sells Strange Empire on the merits of Cara Gee, Melissa Farman, and Tattiawna Jones, before mentioning Finstad-Knizhnik. While Jones is a familiar face on Canadian television, and Gee comes off a Canadian Screen Award nomination for 2013 film Empire of Dirt, it is Finstad-Knizhnik with the highest television profile, as Durham County lasted three seasons on The Movie Network and HBO Canada, and aired in a second window on Global. Durham County also had a United States run on minor program service Ion.

The media narrative of Strange Empire as the latest show too “un-CBC” for CBC baffles me. CBC Television sometimes has a show or two a season that doesn’t fit neatly with the majority of its schedule – jPod, Wild Roses, What It’s Like Being Alone, Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays, Being Erica. The main problem with the “un-CBC” narrative is that it reduces CBC programming to an us-vs.-them scenario, dovetailing into one of CBC’s persistent false binaries – either the CBC goes completely highbrow/news-oriented/niche etc. and stops competing with private program services like CTV, CTV Two, Global, and City, or it reaches for that mass audience and stops being “special”. In reality, the failure of one of CBC’s first-season shows is seldom anything more than that, whether the show is “edgy” or not. If anything is a punch in the face to CBC this season, it’s the loss of Hockey Night in Canada’s advertising revenue, which directly affects CBC long-term.

Strange Empire is an experiment for CBC in 2014-15. My worry with Strange Empire is that it wasn’t initially promoted well enough to the audience of Durham County fans that might appreciate it. Granted, Strange Empire is a much harder sell than new seasons of a proven commodity like Murdoch Mysteries and The Rick Mercer Report. In addition, Strange Empire competes against City’s Scorpion, CTV’s Forever, CTV Two’s The Voice, and Global’s Sleepy Hollow. Monday at 9:00 PM is a tough time-slot, with two new American imports, and two well-established American imports. One thing that might help Strange Empire, assuming CBC doesn’t move the show, is if ABC cancels Forever before it finishes its first season.

CBC Television is not so flimsy that the poor initial performance of one of its edgier dramas is enough to call CBC’s entire 2014-15 primetime schedule into question. It’s not like CBC hasn’t aired “non-CBC” shows before; aside from Being Erica (which enjoyed a respectable four-season run, despite perpetual on-the-bubble CBC ratings), the odder fits are forgotten about, along with “safer” bets like Men with Brooms and The Debaters. Broadcast television is its own strange empire.

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August 30, 2014

TV News | Fall 2014 premieres for APTN, Teletoon, Family Channel Canadian series

Gloryosky readers might wonder why I list the three television services like this. Simply put, these are three historical scripted-series heavyweights. APTN’s output alone makes the major non-CBC program services/networks look paltry.


Teletoon (English)
Chop Chop Ninja (shorts): November 2014, time TBD (debut)
Dr. Dimensionpants: November 2014, time TBD (debut)
Total Drama: Pahkitew Island: September 4, 7:30 PM ET/PT (second half of fifth season)

Existing Teletoon shows with new episodes for fall 2014 include Johnny Test, The Day My Butt Went Psycho, Camp Lakebottom, Totally Spies!, and Packages From Planet X. In an odd departure from the Corus/Astral era, Corus-owned Teletoon doesn’t list when the new seasons premiere, with the exception of the latest Total Drama installment.


APTN (English)
Amy’s Mythic Mornings: September 6, 9:00 AM ET [HD, East]/9:00 AM CT [North]/9:00 AM MT [West] (debut)
Blackstone: November 11, 10:00 PM ET [HD, East]/10:00 PM MT [West]; November 16, 10:00 PM CT [North] (fourth season)
Cashing In: November 18, 8:00 PM ET [HD, East]/8:00 PM MT [West]; November 23, 8:00 PM CT [North] (fourth season)
Catch the Dream: September 4, 8:30 PM ET [HD, East]/8:30 PM MT [West] (debut)
Mohawk Girls: November 25, 9:00 PM ET [HD, East]/9:00 PM CT [North]/9:00 PM MT [West] (debut)
Native Planet: September 3, 7:00 PM ET [HD, East]/8:00 PM CT [North]/7:00 PM MT [West] (debut)
Warrior Games: September 6, 4:30 PM ET [HD, East]/4:30 PM CT [North]/4:30 PM MT [West] (debut)

APTN (Inuktitut)
Qanurli: September 1, 7:00 PM CT (fourth season)
Takuginai: September 7, 8:30 AM CT (fourteenth season)

Cashing In will air two episodes on APTN North for its fourth-season premiere.

Mohawk Girls’ normal time on APTN North is Sunday, 9:00 PM CT; the time listed is for the two-episode series premiere.

Native Planet will only be shown on APTN North in Cree.


Family Channel
The Next Step: September 12, 7:30 PM ET (second half of second season)

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August 29, 2014

DVD News | Cybersix complete series DVD set out now through Discotek Media

Cybersix aired on Teletoon from 1999-2000, based on the more violent/sexually explicit Argentine comic book. The series was a Canada/Japan co-production between two Vancouver, British Columbia studios (Network of Animation, Ocean Productions), and Tokyo Movie Shinsha. In the United States of America, Cybersix aired on Fox Kids in fall 2000.

Cybersix’s main character is Cyber-6 (Cathy Weseluck), an artificial human created by former Nazi/Schutzstaffel member Dr. Von Reichter (Terry Klassen). Cyber-6 is the last fully-intact, surviving member of the Cyber series, which Von Reichter wants to destroy due to the Cyber series’ possession of free will. The Nazism is toned down in the animated series, but not fully eliminated.

During the series’ run, Cyber-6 fights Von Reichter’s monsters in the city of Meridiana. The monsters include Fixed Ideas (big green humanoid mooks), Technos (normal-seeming artificial humans), and Types (like Technos, but teenaged and more monstrous). Cyber-6 survives by taking their “Sustenance” – essentially, a way to suggest vampirism without being blatant about it. José (Alex Doduk), Von Reichter’s “son”/clone, is the show’s main on-screen antagonist, carrying out his “father’s” orders. Cyber-6 is helped by Data-7, a panther with the brain of Cyber-6’s “brother” Cyber-29.

By day, Cyber-6 assumes the identity of teacher Adrian Seidelman. Biology teacher/big eater Lucas Amato (Michael Dobson) is the designated Lois Lane, capable of holding his own against normal people, but not the villains Cybersix deals with. Julian (Andrew Francis) is a street kid who tries to help Cybersix at times – emphasis on tries. Lori Anderson (Janyse Jaud) is one of Seidelman’s students. Lori has a crush on Seidelman, and is the main focus of the fifth episode, “Lori is Missing”.

Cybersix is an atypical animated series, due to its being Japanese animation with the Cybersix comics’ European look. The theme song (see below) is excellent; Cybersix’s scores aren’t as good, and the show mostly goes with a monster-of-the-week format. Cybersix’s main strengths are its production values, character designs, and gender flip of the Clark Kent/Superman dynamic. Cybersix is a reminder of the early, more freewheeling days of Teletoon.

Discotek Media released this complete series DVD set August 26, 2014; it retails for USD$34.95 at its website. Extras include commentary on the first and final episodes, by Cathy Weseluck and Discotek Media graphic artist/Cybersix fan Brady Hartel. The set only includes the English dub, in its original 1.33:1 aspect radio.

I can’t complain about this set. In today’s Canadian TV-on-DVD world, the fact this title is out at all after fifteen years is a minor miracle. Frankly, I think Cybersix is Teletoon’s best-ever original series. I don’t claim Cybersix is perfect, as the monster-of-the-week format limits it more than anything. I still prefer Cybersix for adapting seemingly questionable source material, and adapting it well. Teletoon never took as big a chance as with Cybersix; I doubt it will again.

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